Listening for God

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE Senior Pastor.

Dear friends,

One of my favorite all-time quotes says, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”

This quote keeps me grounded, humble, open, willing to read, listen, and learn from others. It reminds me that I am not finished growing, changing, and maturing.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you how I am exploring the practice of meditation as part of my time with God. For many years, my daily prayer life was more a monologue than a dialogue, a kind of voicemail “inbox” where I bring to God my list, my petitions, my concerns. After telling God everything on my list, I would say my “Amen” and ease into the day — clueless that God is also trying to speak to me.

Reading through much of the Bible last year, I couldn’t help noticing the repeated phrase in Exodus and Leviticus, And the word of the Lord came to Moses. What does that really mean? How did Moses hear God?

Should Christians expect to hear from God? If so, how does that happen? Finding the key to hearing God is facilitated through practices of prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, and fellowship with one another.

Now, here’s what I do every morning: Before checking email, social media, the morning news, I check in with God. I pick up my Bible and read, ponder, write a few sentences. Then I pray prayers inspired by my reading from God’s word. I then begin praying for people and situations. People in our church, our staff, my family, situations going on in the world. This part of my time with God is not complete until I spend 10-15 minutes in silent meditation.

During my meditation, I place my hands on my knees with palms up as a physical posture of surrender, humility, receptivity — a physical way for me to receive from God and offer myself in return.  In meditation, as I understand it, breathing is meant to clear the mind, to bring me to a place of clarity, free of anxiety, able to let go of my preoccupations with things I cannot control.

Meditation allows me to consciously dwell in God’s presence. Instead of quickly ending my time with God, I am learning to sit patiently, waiting for God to speak.

Do I hear a voice? No. But, somehow, the wisdom of God comes to me regarding my leadership challenges, my personal problems, or problems facing others.

We live in a world of whirling words, noise, devices, flickering images that help to speed us up, distract us, and leave us dabbling in the trivial instead of concentrating on the essential.

Of course, meditation is not an end in itself. Like a flame reaches up toward the heavens, my practice of meditation lifts my mind and helps me pay attention to the voice and activity of God in my life.

And, as YOU are in my life, I hope I will see you Sunday.

Seeking to grow in Grace and love for God and others,

Pastor Ray Hylton